Interview: Lights Over Bridgeport [February 2015]

By Tom Beck

Groezrock, the excellent punk-rock festival based in Belgium, returns this May and event sponsors Macbeth are running a fan vote competition to see who joins bands such as Social Distortion, Refused, and Millencolin on the line up. We caught up with the only band from the USA who are in contention, Chicago based Lights Over Bridgeport, to see how they rate their chances.

Thanks for taking time to speak to us John – for those who aren’t familiar with your band can you sum up everything we need to know in a few sentences?

I’ll try my best: group of close friends writes songs they love..and then finally gets their act together and writes better songs while organized, reaching a few more ears. Currently doing their best to reach for a few more ears, and enjoying each step as much as possible in the process.

Lights Over Bridgeport have been included in the fan’s vote competition to win a spot at Groezrock this year, how do you rate your chances?

Well to be honest we’re all still sort of in shock that we actually even have a chance. The fact that we’ve got a dog in the race though, I’d say we feel very positive right now. In order to get better, we had to leave behind any negativity and believe in ourselves. So no use in doubting, we wanna make a run at Europe. This is a better chance than we could have ever hoped for.

As an un-signed band what challenges does playing a festival in Belgium represent for you?

Obviously virtually no one there knows who we are. But we’ve got to start somewhere. We believe in our music. And It’s kind of encouraging to see Groezrock bands like Millencolin, Lagwagon, Good Riddance, The Swellers, and Social Distortion of course…all punk bands who play what you could call a classic style of punk (or more or less inventing a classic sound in the case of Social D), and all bands who seem to be doing at least relatively well in Europe. I guess our hope would be that fans in Europe can hear a similar sound or inspiration in our music that they may find with those bands. Our hope, anyway!

You recorded your EP with Nick from the Swellers, a band who are booked in for Groezrock for one last time. Have you learned a lot from that band?

Absolutely. And at each stage of our growth even. Around the time that our band started to become more organized and set goals, The Swellers were the band that we were all listening to. We always come back to it – ‘Ups & Downsizing’ was a huge record for us: it’s the reason we reached out to Nick and Mark Michalik to record in the first place. It helped us push ourselves to write better music, along with a few of our other big influences. Having the opportunity to record with Nick though… going into the recording, I’m not sure that we knew what to expect other than that we knew we’d make a record that sounded incredible. I think building a relationship there though, becoming friends with Nick and being aware of the Swellers’ success, I’d like to think that it enforced to us all the importance of just being ourselves and doing that the best we can. You’ll run into a few bands out there trying to revive something, or trying to latch on to the latest flavor of the month subgenre. Sometimes, bands experience extreme success going that route. But The Swellers were always true to themselves. Getting a chance to meet them, playing with them a few times and interact with them, as I said I’d like to think it taught us that we’ve got to be our own band and earn our own way. The support that bands like The Swellers get comes from a lot of hard work and dedication — it’s not this overnight thing. And in the end, although their band is ending now – from the outside looking in it seems like it’s more rewarding that way.

The Groezrock line up looks pretty strong this year – if you joined that list who would you most like to see?

Certainly we want to see The Swellers one last time. We opened at their last Chicago show and thought for sure that would be our last chance to see them. I’d go INSANE to see Millencollin, have been listening to them since I was 13 and have never ever seen them. American Nightmare, Social Distortion, Comeback Kid, Mineral, Title Fight, Make Do & Mend, and our fellow Chicago-area dudes in Counterpunch would all be big for us to see. What a crazy lineup!

And finally, in your opinion, why should people vote for you?

Because they want to get to the bottom of why we’d be the only American band even considered for the fest! And also because the chance the share our music across an OCEAN is something that no other four average Midwestern dudes could possibly appreciate more than we would. Please give us a shot to go to Belgium, it would mean the world to us – a total dream.

You can vote for Lights Over Bridgeport, alongside a whole host of other exciting acts, over at the Macbeth Groezrock page. A full list of acts in the running can be found below.

Hear the band’s excellent EP, ‘Prayers & Eulogies’, right here:

Alternatively check out their great video for ‘Automatic’ on their YouTube channel:

The 30 shortlisted bands are:

The Peterlees (The Netherlands)
Bad Ideas (United Kingdom)
COLT 45 (United Kingdom)
Drones (United Kingdom)
Taped (Liechtenstein)
Tiger Bell (Sweden)
Kill Ferelli (The Netherlands)
Lights Over Bridgeport (United States)
Shinebox (Italy)
The King is Dead (United Kingdom)
Seething Akira (United Kingdom)
High Hopes (United Kingdom)
Holly Would Surrender (Germany)
Jarhead (Belgium)
Mr Shiraz (United Kingdom)
Not On Tour (Israel)
Scream Your Name (Switzerland)
Speaking in Shadows (United Kingdom)
Stars Burn Stripes (Denmark)
The 4130’s (United Kingdom)
Dead Giveaway (The Netherlands)
Ducking Punches (United Kingdom)
Straightline (Germany)
Versive (Ireland)
Lacey (United Kingdom)
Kill The President! (Spain)
Monday Kills (Sweden)
You May Kiss the Bride (Turkey)
Black Sheep (Belgium)
Wolves Scream (Belgium)

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]